Kitplus Magazine by TV-BAY

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EDUCATION Guaranteed Training? by Mark Reed, Freelance Sound Guarantee Engineer M y dictionary says that training is “the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill”. I’m not sure how many animals work in the TV industry but the point is, sound in the broadcast arena definitely requires taught skills. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I went to a college recognised as one of the leaders in training by the industry, I met the right sort of people, took the right sort of advice and 15 years later feel very much part of the Outside Broadcast (or OBs) part of the broadcast industry. In my day to day job the skills required are actually quite wide. I work as a guarantee engineer, and to take this job description to the absolute, it means, I will guarantee that the system works. The ‘system’ in an OB truck is quite an animal... there is knowledge required in the operation and programming of; • The Sound Desk • The Communication system, including radio talkback and the associated RF technology • The Audio Router • The Video Router • Optic Fibre systems • Analogue Jackfield • Digital Jackfield • External Audio equipment • Outgoing Lines equipment including embedders, Dolby E & Metadata. • Analogue cabling and the challenges that presents. • Digital cabling and the challenges that presents. • An awareness of the technology and equipment that other departments use - Cameras, Vision Engineering and VT. So, how on earth does one become trained to know enough about all the items on this list, bearing in mind there is little consistency between OB trucks, manufacturers or the way a truck is physically wired up? Much of my education was about understanding concepts. Yes, my college had equipment of the day, but the exams were about understanding what a bit of kit is designed 44 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 93 SEPTEMBER 2014 to do. It didn’t matter if the label on the box said Calrec, Studer or Soundcraft. This is, I believe, was the fundamental success of the course. I left college and became staff at an OB facility. They had the money and time to train the junior engineers through a mixture of on the job experience with guidance from senior staff and the occasional course either at base or a day trip to a training centre or office somewhere. This arrangement worked well, dovetailing my college education into real world scenarios. Many years later and I’m now at the point in my career where I am now self-employed. As much as this is an exciting, opportunity filled position, it is also made harder by losing the benefits of being a staff member of a larger company that can demand from manufacturers and broadcasters some training on any large order of kit that they should purchase or new workflow technique. So, what to do?